Time Management 101 – Part 3

In Part 1 of this three-part series, I described how prioritization, planning, and sleep influence time management. In Part 2, I described how medicine, stimulants, exercise also affect time management. In this, the final post of the three-part series, I describe how email, social media, multitasking and flexibility affect time management. I started writing this series for survivors of brain injury, but seven readers pointed out that people who have not experienced brain injury first hand also benefit by improving their time management skills. I agree. Even though the posts I publish are written to help brain injury survivors get the most out of life after injury, I recognize the posts also help those who have not experienced brain injury get the most out of life after adversity.

Check Your Email and Social Media

When I first thought about writingSocial Media Icons this post, I believed that checking email and social media briefly, three or fewer times per day, was possible and the best way to ensure proper time management. I still believe the statement is accurate, but I also recognize that my personal struggle with learning to use social media makes the term “briefly” somewhat subjective and comical. Email is fairly straightforward – receive, reply, and send email. Social media can be a lot more complicated – you may have headers, pictures, likes, groups, friends, newsfeeds, messages, events, apps, gifts, games, music, pokes, fan pages, interests, and etiquette. I recognize that social media can be time consuming. However, the fact remains that spending hours on email and social media is not a good way to manage time unless the only goal you have during your waking hours is to spend your time using email and social media. If you have several tasks to complete during the day, then reducing the time you spend with email and social media might be an appropriate method of managing your time.

Avoid Multitasking and Interruptions

InterruptionsAn internet search of the words “multitasking skills” will produce approximately 500,000 search results that include topics such as improving your multitasking skills, highlighting your multitasking skills in a resume, and job satisfaction through multitasking. However, the current belief is that multitasking is detrimental to productivity and time management. In an article written by Peter Bregman and published on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network in May of 2010, the author states,  “multitasking is dangerous” and he referred to a study that concluded “people distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQs.” Many people think that multitasking allows them to finish tasks faster than if they completed the tasks sequentially, but Bregman reveals that studies show multitasking causes productivity “decreases by up to 40%.” One reason why multitasking results in a decrease in efficiency is that multitasking is really switching between two or more activities rather than completing two or more activities simultaneously. Even the smartest and fastest computers cannot multitask — they simply create the illusion that they are capable of multitasking.

Be Flexible

Regardless of how well activities are planned,Flexible there is the possibility that something, either within or beyond your control, will interfere with the plan. If such an interruption occurs, the best time management strategy is to expect the unexpected and implement an already prepared Plan B. Implementing an already prepared Plan B will prevent a time-wasting interruption that would occur if Plan B were not ready to implement immediately.

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Questions

How much time do you spend reading email, responding to email, writing email, or checking your social media account? If you are not able to complete your high-priority tasks, what is your solution? How do you avoid interruptions? What does flexibility mean to you? What will you do to improve your time management?

Thanks to Charles, Wendy, Orman Clark, Peter Bregman, and Harvard Business Review for contributing to the ideas, words, or pictures I used in this post.

Click here to read another post about time management.

2 Comments

  1. Much of my life is measured with time.Time management requires me to make conscious decisions in how I will spend each hour in the day. It requires planning, and enables achievement of goals — perhaps long sought “balance”. It is easy for me to spend too much time on-line, be distracted, and, lose focus. I must give up what I prefer to do sometimes in order to do what must be done. Rewarding myself after I’ve completed a particularly difficult anxiety provoking task helps with continued motivation. Doing the difficult thing consistently makes it overtime a more automatic less stressful habit. Creating a routine is a much more effective way for me to live post injury. Picking a time slot when I am most alert, least tired, and not working past my ability to maintain focus promotes productivity. Staying open to new ideas, novel ways of doing and seeing life helps me be flexible and adapt to unexpected twists and turns; life does not always go according to plans.

    I am discovering what works for me and what does not; while learning to cultivate “positive thinking” to enhance the quality of my life, and the lives of those around me.

    I depend on my I-phone to tell me what I am doing daily through calendar and task applications .I can view my schedule by day, week, or, month. I can set an alarm to wake up,to remind me to study for an exam, or, alert me to when my next appointment starts and ends.I continue to learn new ways my I-phone can assist me, like my “Siri” voice assistant ; however my I-phone only helps me when I am diligent ,and, consistent with entering my schedule.More often then not when I put off inputting information immediately, I forget it.

    The “Pareto Principle” (the 80/20 Rule) states that only 20% of what I do leads to 80% of my results.20% of what I do can influence the quality of my life.I must figure out what that 20% should be for me ? First by prioritizing what is most important to me , along with what Must be done for my survival. I must determine and write down the steps I must take to achieve my goals. Deciding what I will give up is also critical. I have learned painfully ,when attempting, to do too much, everything suffers.

    1. Esther, you accurately captured the essence of time management. There are only 24 hours in a day. You use some of that time for sleep, some of the time for things you planned, and some of the time for things that you did not plan. 24 hours is all you get — time management is the art of learning to spend time efficiently and realistically.

      You also mentioned one of the most important features of compensation tools — you are much more likely to use the tools when they work for you. I write a few questions at the end of most posts so readers can decide what they think about a subject and what works best for them. The iPhone can be a great compensation tool, but as you mentioned, the iPhone cannot help if 1) people forget to enter events into it; 2) people forget to set properly scheduled alarms for the events; and 3) people ignore the alarms when they ring and/or vibrate.

      Prioritization is definitely essential to time management. I believe the most challenging aspect of time management is learning to differentiate between priorities and less essential tasks that can be completed quickly. Completing less essential tasks might result in feelings of accomplishment, but people would gain more by focusing on the essential events that really matter.

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